Fire Engine Plate, "American 5"

Fire Engine Plate, "American 5"

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Description (Brief)
At the core of any fire company is the apparatus used to fight fires and protect lives. This was particularly true of for the volunteer fire fighters in 19th century America. Often purchased with their own funds, their fire engines were the focus of their pride and affection, as well as their identities as fire fighters. Engine plates, often made of brass, would be prominently affixed to engines and inscribed with the company name, number, and founding date. Engine plates could pass from old engine to new, or be kept in the firehouse as a memorial to a departed apparatus.
This nickel-plated brass engine plate has “AMERICAN” and the number “5” engraved into the face that is filled with black enamel. There are small incised lines curving around the “5” and above “American.” There are holes at the top and corners of the plate, which allowed the plate to be attached to the engine. This engine plate may have adorned the engine of the American Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 5 of Lancaster, Pennsylvania during the late 19th century.
Currently not on view
Object Name
plate, fire engine
date made
19th century
place made
United States
Physical Description
oak (overall material)
nickel-plate (overall material)
overall: 5 1/2 in x 6 1/2 in; 13.97 cm x 16.51 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
Fire Fighting
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Cultures & Communities
Firefighting Collection
Fire Engine Plates
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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